Space Sector Current Affairs

Permanent Court of Arbitration rules against Antrix Coroporation in Devas case

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands has ruled against Antrix Corporation in the case with Devas Corporation over sharing of spectrum on satellites.

A PCA tribunal has found that the Union Government’s actions in annulling a contract between Devas and Antrix Corporation Ltd.

It also found that it has denied Devas commercial use of S-band spectrum constituted an expropriation (state actions in modifying the property rights of an individual in the exercise of its sovereignty. Following the ruling, India may have to give 1 billion compensation to Devas.

What is the case?

  • In 2005, Devas Corporation and Antrix Corporation had struck a deal which had provided for the launch of two satellites allowing Devas.
  • These satellites were to establish a hybrid satellite and terrestrial communications network to supply wireless audio-visual, broadband and mobile internet service across India.
  • But later, Antrix Corporation terminated the contract citing changes in Indian policy and that the allocation of S-band Spectrum to companies unconnected with India’s space programme was now regarded as a risk to national security.
  • Devas had moved to PCA, citing Antrix had contended that the national security and force majeure issues reasons for termination of deal as “contrived excuses”.
  • It also had asked damages amounting to 1.6 billion dollars from Indian Government under the UNCITRAL (United Nations Commission on International Trade Law) Arbitration Rules.

About Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)

  • PCA is an intergovernmental organization established in 1899. It is located at The Hague in the Netherlands.
  • It is not a court in the traditional sense, but a permanent framework for arbitral tribunals constituted to resolve specific disputes.
  • PCA seeks to facilitate arbitration and other forms of dispute resolution involving various combinations of states, state entities, international organizations and private parties.
  • It was the first permanent intergovernmental organization that provided a forum for the resolution of international disputes through arbitration and other peaceful means.
  • The PCA also administers cases under the arbitration rules of the UNCITRAL.

Antrix Corporation: It is the commercial arm of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is an anglicised version of Antariksha, from the Sanskrit word for “space”. It functions under the aegis of Department of Space (DoS), an independent Department directly working under the Prime Minister.

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